London Marathon 2019 – 2: The Run

Can I be honest? Please don’t hate me. The thing is, I don’t actually like the London Marathon. Oh undoubtedly it’s a great city marathon and I like watching it on TV and maybe if you can whizz through at 5 miles a minute or less it’s a nice course but otherwise it’s not much to write home about. And yes the crowds are plenty and loud but nonetheless, I don’t really like it. It’s just iconic and somehow a bit special but no.

Anyway, we had porridge and then slowly got sorted. Then we got the tube,IMG_5092 then another tube and then a train to Greenwich to get Kath to the red start area. As I left her to continue on to the blue start we were both quite emotional and for the first time the reality of us running this thing separately dawned on me. I walked away with tears streaming. By the time I got to the start area I felt better, back to settled. I handed my bag in and found somewhere to just sit for a while. I had my wholemeal roll with peanut butter and then I lay back on the grass just drifting. After a while I thought maybe I should go for a pee. I headed over to the toilets, looked at the queues and instead decided to brave the female urinals. Let’s just say it involve cardboard devices and an ability to be fairly accurate. It was an experience. Just before I entered the start zone I went to the proper toilets which were almost queueless by then. I was ready to get going now. I chatted to a couple of runner’s around me for a bit, everyone playing it all down and just being there to finish etc. I don’t buy it. I know they have a time in mind and I know they are here to race – themselves if nothing else.

Then we are off. I set my watch to go and settle in. I’m going too fast as I am keeping pace with the 5.15 pacers. Let them go. I keep repeating that over and over. Just let them go and slow down. Just coming up to a mile I drop into run/walk. I felt ok. Not great but ok. I’m still going too fast. I spend the next few miles telling myself to slow down. I am still going too fast when I pass someone I know and say a quick Hi and tell her I’m feeling good and strong and urge her to keep going. I’m 5 miles in and everything is ok. I’ve let the pacers go and I am closer to the pace I should be at. By mile 6 ish I’ve got there. This is the right sort of pace to get me under 6 hours. I get to the Cutty Sark and gently run my way round the bend and wave at the camera. It’s all good. I’m beginning to think ahead. Only about 2 miles until I see Dad. I look forward to that. I keep plodding. I do a mental form check. I’m doing well. I see the Mind cheer station and get a really loud cheer and I see Dad at the end of the line. I run along it and high five everyone and give Dad a hug. As I run on and turn away from the cheer station I struggle to keep the emotion in check. I take some deep breaths and run on.

Mile 9 and a bit. There should be a cheer station by someone I know somewhere here. About ten miles I think. I look for it but I miss it. I notice that my tummy is crampy. I decide not to ignore it but stop at toilets. At just after mile 11 I see a short queue and join it. I check the tracker and Kath has gone through half way and shows on the map as around 26km. The woman in front of me goes into the toilet. She takes forever and comes out 7 58384116_10157239650874721_2171688099405365248_nminutes after in completely new kit. Something was wrong there, some sort of cheating but there’s nothing I can do and I have lost all the time I was up on my six hour goal. I set off again but I miss Kath. I have a little cry. My head is slipping. My six hour marathon is slipping away. I don’t like doing it without her. It feels wrong and I feel very very alone.

Twelve miles done. I keep plodding. The odd extra walk sneaks in and I am getting slower. I’m lonely. I try and get a grip. Tower Bridge. I wanted to run Tower Bridge because I felt too poorly to last time. I set off and then I stop. I want to enjoy it, take it in. I run a bit and walk a bit. I smile and I look around but it just isn’t the same. I miss Kath. I come off the bridge and turn right. I run a bit and walk a bit. I keep looking at the faster runners on the other side of the road. I don’t think I can get there but remind myself that I always think that. I keep hoping I might see Kath. I cry a bit more. I don’t want to do this without her next to me. I don’t see her. I keep plodding.

I come up to mile fifteen. I can see the marker on my right and  have just come through a Lucozade station. ‘Shit that tarmac is slippery’ pops into my head as i find myself hurtling to the floor. I don’t remember much, just hitting my right knee and hip hard as I do a sort of undignified roll and bounce action and push off my left hand to get back up. Nobody stops, nobody helps me, nobody asks if I am ok. It hurts. I want to stop, just walk away, just fuck the fucking marathon. I don’t need to finish four. Three is just fine. It fucking hurts. I keep moving with tears streaming. I don’t really know why. Forward motion seems the best thing to do. No point in standing still. Nowhere else to go. I check my phone and the tracker. Kath hasn’t moved. I suppressed the panic. SHE HASN’T MOVED.

I keep moving though. I don’t want to do this. I want to stop. Mile 16 comes and I’m still walking. I don’t even remember seeing Mile 18 to 21. It’s all a blur of missing Kath, trying to run just little bits and keep putting one foot in front of the other. In the previous three marathons I have doubted my ability to finish. It never occurred to me to drop out but the possibility of not making the cut off time or being pulled for medical reasons was always there. This time I knew that if I wanted to I would get to the finish. I just wasn’t sure I wanted it enough to keep going. BUT KATH HASN’T MOVED. Logistically, though, I think, the easiest way to get to find out what is going on is to finish this bloody marathon. I keep trying to convince myself that it is just the tracker, that Kath is probably fine.

Somewhere on that stretch the 6.15 pacers from my start come past and I try to stick with them for a bit. They had started not far behind me and I think that maybe, just maybe if I can go with them I could still get a marathon PB. But I can’t hold on. Or maybe I just don’t want to enough. I’ve had enough of the crowds now too. Yes the support is loud and people shout your name but somehow it felt edgy. Some of it was alcohol fuelled and aggressive. At one point I had a brat of a lad pint in one hand and megaphone in the other running backwards in front of me shouting encouragement. I didn’t have the energy to sidestep or comment so I just had to wait until he stopped and picked his next victim. The support at the Disney races felt somehow more real, more genuine, less of a game. There were exceptions to this. Somehow it felt like I knew when the shouts of encouragement came from other runners, there is a tone, an understanding, a real empathy that comes through. It says ‘I know that everything hurts, I know right now you don’t believe so let me believe in you for you’. Most of the support just sounded hollow to me. Like being loud and shouting supportive phrases was just some kind of sport in itself.

I pass Mile 22. I miss Kath more than ever.  ‘Well you didn’t think you’d gt here, yet here you are, I think. I keep touching my tinker bell necklace and the little heron card Kath made for me so she could be with me in spirit. I know I can walk 4 miles. I know I can finish. I still don’t know if I want it enough though. Just 3 miles to the Embankment cheer station where Kath might be but I try not to think about seeing her. I try to go faster but I’m not sure I actually do. I get the the Embankment. I am hoping it will give me a boost. I feel nothing. I feel like I am done. A guy wearing a finisher medal walks along side me on the other side of the barricade. He is being lovely and genuine and I hate him. ‘Don’t give up now. You are so close, don’t you dare give up now’. He was of course right. Giving up now makes no sense. I’d have to cover the same distance to recover my bag – might as well do it along the proper route. My watch beeps for 25 miles. I am about half a mile up on the official markers so half a mile until I might see Kath. She’s not there. The Mind team gives me a little boost though. I run a few steps.

The last bit. I don’t know exactly when I start running but I suddenly realise that I could get round in under 6 hours 30 minutes if I push just a little. I tap the heron for power and set off. Everything feels like it might snap. ‘No faster’ I tell myself ‘just nurse it home’. I turn alongside Buckingham Palace. I keep my eye on the crowd. Dad will be somewhere on my right as I turn for home. I don’t see him. I must have missed him. Disappointment hits like a punch to the stomach. And then I decide I really have had enough of this marathon. I want it to be over. I don’t feel like I can run any further and the pain in my right hip and ankle are outrageous so I fix my eyes on the finish line and run. Not fast, not sprinting but gently speeding up with every step just willing the finish to come to me. That last hundred metres is probably the hardest fought 100 metres I have every run. And then it’s over.

IMG_5102I stop my watch. Under 6.30. I get my medal. I take a selfie and start the long walk to get my bag. I look at my phone. Kath had obviously tracked me and had sent me a text. I ring her. She’s waiting for me where I exit the runners only area. I mix my recovery drink and walk to find her. Only when I see her do I find out that she had finished. She’d completed in under 5 hours in spite of also having a pretty rough time. Our adventures are better when they are together sort of adventures. This was not a good adventure.

We worked out where the meeting point was where Dad would be together and made our way to meet him. We posed for a couple of pictures and then made our way to the restaurant by our hotel again. We wanted to be away from crowds and noise. We had a nice meal and re-lived bits of the race and chatted. Then we went to the hotel for a bath and bed.

And that was my 2019 London Marathon. I’m glad it’s over.

London Marathon 2019 – 1: The Build Up

IMG_5037As you know the last bit of preparation for the marathon was not ideal, I had a horrible cold and chesty cough that seemed to take forever to clear and my last couple of runs were short and slow and hard work. Not ideal but nonetheless I felt excited about going to the running show to pick up our race packs. I did this on Thursday after we realised that I was in London for a meeting anyway and could change my train tickets easily and without massive extra cost to come home a bit later.

The running show was actually quite fun. I hadn’t really expected that. I IMG_5034collected our numbers and timing chips and then had a look at the stands. I joined the trail running association and bought amazing looking flapjacks from flapjackery and gorgeous chocolate from Carole Armitage Chocolates. I spoke to quite a few race organisers about their marathons, carefully selecting those with shorter distance options! This is my last marathon after all. I picked up loads of leaflets.

IMG_5055I was late home on Thursday and I was tired! Friday I was unsettled and couldn’t really focus on work. Eventually we went for a little trot out which was harder work than I really wanted it to be. Still though I was excited and only mildly terrified. Later on I packed my bag, worried about what to take, repacked my bag and continued worrying about what to take. I didn’t sleep well. On Saturday morning we were both awake early, much earlier than we really needed to be but we tried to have a calm and relaxed morning and then got a lift to the station. We were on our way.

The journey was fine. The train to London wasn’t busy and the coffee was ok even if the pastries on the LNER weekend service are inedible. The tube was busy but at least we didn’t have that far to go. We arrived at the hotel which was decidedly average ad checked in with the ‘help’ of a totally disinterested receptionist who was too busy trying to have a private phone conversation. Then we looked for lunch. Rather than wandering around IMG_5029aimlessly for ages we just opted for the ASK Italian even though we had a booking for the evening there too. The lighter options were actually just right for lunch.

After lunch we laid out our things, packed our drop bags and got sorted. I still felt more excited than scared. We watched a bit of TV and I dozed off for a while and then it was soon time to go meet Dad for dinner. We had a good natter and I fuelled on lasagna while Kath went for Spag Bol. There, ready! Now it was really just about getting a good night’s sleep. I wasn’t really nervous. I was looking forward to it. Marathon number 4! Yay!

IMG_5091Re-reading this post I realise it says very little about the emotions of the build up, about what I was thinking and feeling. I think that’s maybe because I wasn’t. It was sort of all consuming and life was split into pre marathon and post marathon with the latter being forever away. Yet I felt very little and thought very little about actually running the marathon. I knew that the reality was that I was undertrained. At the same time I also knew that I could get my backside round the distance. It felt a bit like there wasn’t much to think about and emotionally I just felt settled that whatever was going to happen was going to happen.

A Week to Go – Some Thoughts

Stick with me, I’m not quite sure where this blog is going but I felt like I wanted to blog and I felt like I wanted it to be about running rather than work so I just opened the blog site and started typing really.

This time next week it will all be over. I will, if the universe agrees, have finished the London Marathon for the second time in my life and for what I am fairly sure will be the last time. I have learned never to say never when it comes to running but I do think I’m done with marathons, or at least with road marathons. I’ve already explored some of the whys in the context of Dopey so let’s not go over them again now. There is something oddly calming as well as slightly stressful about deciding that this is the last time I will attempt to cover 26.2 miles as quickly as I possibly can. I’ll come back to that.

I realised the other day that everything has been focused on marathon day in a way that has split life into pre and post marathon. Post marathon always seems aaaaaaaaages away which means that things that are happening quite soon after have not been given their due time and attention. I finally remembered to book some leave and I still need to move a couple of meetings and maybe plan for the trip to see our friends the weekend after because who knows what I’ll be capable of or not come the 29th April! It’s also only a month and a week until we fly to Washington DC for a conference and then a bit of leave tagged on and doing a bit of planning for that might not be a bad move! But you know, all of that is post marathon in a way that doesn’t quite seem real. Post marathon is like Narnia, like Hogwarts or like a Galaxy Far Far Away – clearly there but just not quite believable or real. Post marathon exists in another dimension.

But there are some things post marathon that I am thinking about a lot. What will happen to running post marathon? In fairly typical fashion I am wondering about the next challenge. What is my next impossible? At the same time though I am looking forward to not running to a plan, running just because I want to and running as far, fast or high as I want to. Just because. But then what if I don’t want to run? That would be awful wouldn’t it. I mean running is now part of who I am and what I do even if I’m not actually really a runner. Imagine not wanting to run. What then? I keep looking at races and challenges, something to keep me honest. I hope I’ll be ok. I think I will be. We have entered the 5 mile Solstice Saunter at Bolton Abbey in June and the Ilkley Half Marathon in July but I am also trying to tell myself that if I don’t want to run for a bit post marathon that’s actually ok…. Overthinking much?

Anyway, the last marathon. Yes. I feel quite settled in that decision. I don’t have anything left to prove. To be fair once would have been enough. 4 is awesome. I don’t feel the pressure to do 5 for a sort of magic number. 4 can be my magic number. I like the symmetry of 2 London, 2 Dopeys and I like the idea of finishing my marathon ‘career’ with something as iconic as London. It has a long cut off time, a familiar route, awesome support and atmosphere and there’s a great chance of me being able to soak it all up and enjoy it – or at least some of it. Finishing in London works for me and feels right. So mostly I feel calm about it and the notion of this being my last is adding to calm rather than adding stress or pressure.

Every now and again though I get a little panicked – if this is my last marathon then this is my last chance to achieve my marathon goals, my last chance to do well, my last chance to really conquer the distance. Ok well yes but let’s remember that my marathon goal was only ever to drag my arse across the finish line. Let’s remember that I have improved my time with each attempt and that I am fitter than I was 3 years ago for London round 1. And let’s remember that this is my marathon victory lap. Yes I have a time in mind but if it is ‘get the time and be miserable’ or ‘miss the time but enjoy’, I know what I’m choosing and that’s what I need to keep in my mind!

I haven’t run for a week. The little run/walk that was more walk than run was the last outing. My cold shifted to a chesty cough and the wise and beautiful hive mind that is the #Run1000Miles group on Facebook unanimously advised me to not run. They were undoubtedly right. Yesterday we did our last fundraising event and walking backwards and forward to the car carrying cake tins I really struggled to breathe. I have been quite worried that it wouldn’t shift and I’d have to pull out last minute because of it. Today however things are looking much better.

After our Sunday lunch with Kath’s Mum we walked a little loop that includes the little wood in which I started my trail running education. It’s the first proper trail (rather tan just towpath or track) I really ran on and I still find it really tricky when it’s wet and muddy. Today though it was stunning with the bluebells out and fragrant and hints of wild garlic in the air (the pictures dotted in this blog are from that walk). We walked round it at a leisurely pace but I could tell that my lungs and chest have cleared. Breathing felt normal and I wasn’t out of breath. We walked along the canal to my Mum’s, dropped off some cake and then went the most direct (and thus steepest) way back home and lungs and chest were fine – still a bit of snot go get rid of though! I feel happier now that I’ll be ok. I’m going to try the short loop at Bolton Abbey tomorrow morning.

So with a week to go I feel quite settled. A little anxious, a little excited, a little just wanting it to be over but generally settled. I was training well for a 5hours 30 (which would take 48 minutes off current PB) finish but didn’t manage to maintain the weekly miles on the plan for the last 6 weeks so not sure really – I still ran and I ran my long runs but not quite to plan and I didn’t really do the speed and strength runs listed in the way they were intended and then I got this cold. So really I have no idea how well trained I am. I just know that I feel fitter than I was last time but perhaps not quite as fit as I was in January for Dopey – but then I am not doing 4 races this time, just the one, the long one but still just the one. I have my A, B, C, D and E goals in my head. I don’t think I am ready to share them. They feel like they’re mine at the minute. D is finish and E is be healthy and all of them are premised on enjoying the experience.

Easter Trail at Bolton Abbey

The coming week is all about rest and hydration. I am rubbish at drinking enough so I find this really hard but going into a marathon properly hydrated makes such a difference. So if you see me or send me messages on social media or email – keep reminding me to drink water! And if you’re looking for me chances are I have gone for yet another pee. Luckily I don’t have much on this coming week and can mostly stay at home and write. I have an annoying London Trip on Thursday but that too should be relatively stress free and easy.

For those of you running in London- you’re awesome; for those of you marshalling, volunteering and coming out to cheer us on – thank you. To all those of you who helped us reach our fundraising target – we appreciate your support and as cliched as it sounds, it really does mean loads to us! Our fundraising page will stay open a while longer for anyone who still wants to help support Mind: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/KathandJess

No doubt I’ll have more pre-marathon thoughts but in the meantime. Happy Easter to those who celebrate and Happy Sunday for everyone else.

Focusing on London

After a very happy running day yesterday the focus now shifts to the London Marathon. It’s not far off. I’m happy with the training. I’m getting tired, yes, but that’s normal at this point in the training. The running isn’t worrying me. I know I can complete 26.2 miles, it’s a matter of staying injury free and then giving it my best shot on the day.

What is worrying me a little is fundraising. I don’t often run for charity and this is why – I don’t like asking people for money. I don’t like the whole ‘yay look at me I’m doing stuff that I think you should give money to an organisation I have chosen that might mean nothing to you for’. It’s weird, it’s odd, it’s a little bit embarrassing and I’m not good at it. Some people just seem to be able to be constantly in people’s faces about sponsorship etc. I just can’t do it. Kath’s charity place came with a £2000 fundraising target. I don’t have a target because I am using my ballot place but obviously it would be nice if that actually made a contribution to Mind! In other words we would really like to raise more than £2000 for the charity and that’s a phenomenal amount of money.

As well as not being comfortable constantly being in your faces, there are also loads of fundraising ideas which seem to raise a good amount of money which would require us to step right out of our comfort zones. We could probably do a pub quiz, we probably could have organised all sorts of social events but honestly, the training and the being sociable on the level described below is already pushing me outside my comfort zone. It’s already all quite people-y and maybe I should just get over myself but honestly it’s hard! So apart from really hoping a few more of you might be able and willing to sponsor us (You can do so here), we’re doing a few other bits and pieces.

  1. We are planning a carboot sale and some of our lovely neighbours have already donated items for us to sell there. If you have something that might fetch a pound or two at a carboot sale to donate and can get it to us by mid March or so then let us know.
  2. We are doing a cake bake for our local parkrun on 9th March and a coffee morning for our neighbours on the 10th March.
  3. Time permitting there may be more cake related efforts because – you know, cake.
  4. We have a couple of raffle ideas – we are still looking for a few more prizes for a running related one so if you know of anyone who might be able to donate some running/sport related prizes give us a shout! The other raffle had its soft launch at an event I did last week and is for legal academics. Read more about it on my academic blog here.

I realise this could easily be read as a whinge that people aren’t sponsoring us. It’s not intended to be that. If you want to support us, it genuinely means a lot to us, thank you. If this isn’t your thing, I get that too. I was just trying to share what’s on my mind as we head into the last couple of months of training and preparing

Harewood House Half Marathon

So remember last year, my DNF at the Harewood House Half Marathon? I said I’d be back and today I was. I have been looking forward to it and I wasn’t really nervous until this morning when I suddenly started feeling really anxious about the whole thing. The course is tough, I’m not.

Anyway I had been thinking about the race and in particular how I would manage to stick to #MyRunMyRules. I knew from last year that my pace would put me at the back of the pack even on a good day. I therefore spent some time really thinking about how I would feel if I was last and how I would feel running last for a considerable chunk of the race. How would I keep myself motivated and moving forward with the tail marker right behind me and the feeling of people waiting for me. I don’t like to keep people waiting.

Honestly I am absolutely fine with actually coming last, what I think I’d find more difficult is having to run last for most of the race, particularly if I lost touch with the pack or runners in front and there was an obvious big gap that would mean I was holding people up. Maybe that’s where some of the anxiety came from this morning. But anyway, we had our porridge, got sorted and set off. We parked, went to the loo, picked up our t-shirts, went to the loo, met one of our fellow #Run1000Mile challengers, went to the loo (nothing like nervous peeing!) and then we were ready to start.

We set off. For the first few hundred metres all I really had was people streaming past me. I smiled. It is quite hard to keep smiling as everyone keeps over taking you. I tried not to mind and I tried not to speed up. Very soon I was last. I could hear the back marker on his bike behind me and I could hear the marshals’ radio conversations which were quite entertaining. Ok, I thought, well, I’ll be doing all of this right from the back. I felt surprisingly ok about that and settled in.

I hadn’t really looked at pace since an early glance which told me that at 11.20 minutes per mile I was going way way way too fast. I thought I’d slowed a fair bit but at the 1 mile beep I was at 12.08. Too fast. I tried to consciously slow down but already being last made that quite hard somehow. I was gaining on a woman in front of me who had been pulling away but by 1.5 miles she looked like she was struggling and I went past her. I hope she kept going – she must have done for quite a while at least because the back marker didn’t catch up to me and I didn’t see him again.

I was still trying to slow down as I saw deer on my left and red kites in the sky. I couldn’t help but smile. I actually saw loads of deer, loads of kites and tons of smaller birds and an odd squirrel or two. I am utterly rubbish at remembering the route or what was where on it so this may be in the wrong order, possibly totally jumbled. Anyway, I settled into what felt like a comfortable pace. I could see a woman in front of me running a stunningly smooth even pace and I tried to keep with her. I was fine on the flat but she had far more power up the hills. Eventually I stopped focusing on the pink of her jacket, did the sensible thing and let her go. She stayed in view for a long time but eventually she was gone. I was alone. It was bliss.

Coming up to 3 and a half miles I had the first walk as I made my way along the edge of a grassy field heading towards the first steep downhill. I sipped some Tailwind and I tried to keep marching and saw two women ahead of me. I was easily catching up with them. We had a quick chat just before the downhill and then I kept going carefully jogging down the uneven and quite steep track. The marshal sent me diagonally down the hill and that seemed like the route most people took judging by the muddy path. However, the actual route seemed to go straight down to hit the 4 miles marker and then turn left. This is probably the main reason the course measured short.

I think we next turned up into the woods and I walked the hills. I was feeling the too fast start and very briefly it crossed my mind that maybe I was totally screwed but that thought went as fast as it came. I saw some more deer and then at some point I saw some lovely looking Jacob sheep – they looked familiar and then I remembered that the flock we got ours from also had some going to the Harewood estate so it could well be the same blood line. That made me smile and reminisce for a while.

I enjoyed the course and I enjoyed being on my own for so much of it. Around mile 6 I realised I was falling in with the pace of two blokes in front. They were running slightly faster but walking more slowly. I caught up with them for a chat just after the mile 8 water station. We marched up the hill together and then met Susan who was struggling a little. Me and her walked and jogged together for a mile ish leaving the two blokes behind us but then I was walking faster again so I powered up the hill and jogged down the other side to the Mile 10 marker.

I felt ok. I slowly jogged along the track trying to stay out of the way of dog walkers. I was gaining on the aid station where I had called it a day last time and was smiling because I knew I was going beyond. I heard a runner coming at some considerable pace behind me. I wondered whether Susan had maybe found her running legs again but it wasn’t her. It was someone just out running I think and she was fast! As she came past me she touched my shoulder and told me I was amazing. It nearly made me cry but it also gave me a boost and I jogged on and turned left back into the woods. Less than 3 miles left. I slowly jogged most of those last miles with just a few little walks thrown in to reassure myself that I had enough left in the tank. As I plodded past the 11 mile marker I had the rest of my Tailwind feeling pretty happy about my fuelling. Although later on I wished I’d saved just a little bit for the last push.

I’m fairly sure the mile markers were out by quite a bit. Mile 13 was, if I got my numbers right, nearly 1.25 miles long and the Mile 13 sign was definitely more than .1 of a mile away from the finish. The last bit is brutal. It’s not a steep climb but it’s one hell of a pull. I walked up the track, passed another woman and tried to encourage her on, then I turned left into the field. I could see the finish now and willed my legs to start running again. They did, slowly and now feeling really heavy but run they did. I saw Kath coming towards me and she jogged a bit at the side of me when I got to her. She had finished in 2 hours 19 minutes and had nearly been taken out by some deer which had decided to split the runners and cross their path. She said she felt them come past behind her. Wowsers.

The nice thing about coming in at the end and in space is that the announcers at the finish have time to tell the world you’ve done it. Of course most of the world has already gone home but it was still nice to hear my name and a well done and a comment on my ‘big smile’ which was actually more a sort of Cheshire Cat grimace. I got my medal and bottle of water and a hug from Kath. We headed to the car and I stripped down to my bra to change out of my sweaty top and into something warm and dry. I felt awesome. Tired. But awesome. I sipped my tailwind recovery drink and nibbled a cheese sarnie in the car. My time: 3 hours and 58 seconds. So those 58 seconds are annoying. I’m going to have to go back and try again to conquer these rather ridiculous looking squiggles on a map!